By Ken Reed

Many parts of our society have been hit hard by Covid-19. One area that’s received scant attention is youth sports.

During this pandemic, youth sports leagues have been cancelled, athletic facilities have been shutdown, various youth sports programs — public (community recreation centers) and private (e.g., club sports organizations) — have screeched to a halt.

We all know how important cardiovascular-based physical activity is in this era of a childhood obesity epidemic. Pre-pandemic, we were already battling the growing problem of physical inactivity among our children. Shelter-in-place guidelines across the country have exacerbated this problem, as kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens.

Moreover, the recreation and youth sports organizations that help keep our kids moving are now suffering serious economic losses. The result is many youth sports organizations are at risk of going under and not reopening when shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted. For our kids’ sake, this is a likelihood that we need to mitigate.

As such, League of Fans is joining with a number of other organizations to call upon Congress to take the actions necessary to help the youth sports community stay afloat during this national crisis.

Here are a couple excerpts from a letter co-signed by League of Fans and addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

– As this crisis persists, the infrastructure of youth sports, from running programs, providing coaching, and hosting events and competitions is eroding. We must provide critical support now to the youth sports community so these programs can remain for our youth as the crisis wanes.

– While not unique to youth sports, coronavirus-response-resulting cancelled events and programs have had a significant impact on the youth sports sector. This economic loss applies to the youth sport program providers, youth sport event organizers, along with the event hosts and a large number of employees and contractors connected to the event.

– The force majeure clause of insurance contracts does not cover pandemics, meaning that most of the expenses related to these cancelled events are not reimbursable or insurable, leaving a potentially crippling lost expense, dragging down, if not sinking, many youth sports organizations. In just the youth sports sector, we estimate that there have been approximately $8.5B in losses due to coronavirus-response-related event cancellations. Similar losses are faced by venues scheduled to host these events that no longer can due to government restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic.

– Youth sports, by its nature, is a group and crowd-generating activity. While other sectors can operate by remote operations and limiting contacts, that is not feasible for youth sports. Procedures will need to be developed to safely allow the sports sectors to return to full operation, given the contact, group and crowd generating nature of youth sports. This could necessitate an extended period of shutdown across the youth sports industry before activities can resume.

– For that reason, we are asking that Congress recognize this reality by extending existing CARES Act programs and creating and designating $8.5B of stabilization funding for the youth sports sector. Organizations that can demonstrate that national health guidelines prevent their return to program, events, and general operations for an extended period will be able to apply for this extended funding to continue to provide the stabilization needed to keep their critical youth sports programs operational. Youth sports programs are an industry largely run by volunteer coaches and “gig” contractors. As such, a designated fund for youth sports programs becomes even more critical as a lot of these programs are not structured in such a way to benefit from existing recovery resources.

League of Fans, on behalf of youth sports organizations, facility operators, youth sports employees and volunteers, parents and youth sports participants, is asking for your help in saving our youth sports infrastructure post-pandemic. Please contact your local elected officials and/or Senators McConnell and Schumer and express your desire that Congress provides significant stabilization funding for the youth sports community.

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer, Minority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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